Q: I've heard the saying "abs are made in the kitchen," but what does that mean? What are the best foods I should be eating for toned, flat abs.
A: The problem is simple: It's very easy to eat a lot of calories, but it's very hard to burn a lot of calories. The popular slogan "abs are made in the kitchen" refers to the fact that what you eat has a far greater impact on weight loss than any form of exercise you do. But despite the popularity of this saying, many people still attempt to uncover their abs with endless crunches and laps around the track.
If you're eager to reveal your abs to the world but can’t seem to shed that last bit of belly fat, your best strategy is to pay closer attention to your diet. What kinds of foods should you be eating? Regardless of your goal, the foundation of your diet should always be fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, and a blend of dietary fats. When you're actively trying to lose fat, focus on the type of carbohydrates you're eating—aim for more green, fibrous carbohydrates such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, asparagus, bok choy, and collard greens. These are all cruciferous vegetables and are in the running for the healthiest foods in the world.
It's important to remember that hormones play a big role in weight loss, especially the last 5 or so pounds that are so hard to lose. Cruciferous vegetables like those mentioned above contain two compounds—indole-3-carbinol and Calcium D-glucarate—that may help optimize estrogen levels, giving you an edge in revealing your abs faster. In addition to these two powerhouses, cruciferous vegetables are low calorie, high fiber, and have a low energy density. This means that you can eat a large quantity of vegetables and feel full and satisfied without consuming a lot of calories--another key for peeling away that final layer of abdominal fat.
The bottom line: Multiple factors contribute to storing fat around your belly, but by focusing on eating more green, fibrous veggies, you'll make it easier for your body to reveal the flat abs you've always wanted.
Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, is a nutritional consultant known for his ability to transform complex nutritional concepts into practical habits and strategies for his clientele, which includes professional athletes, executives, food companies, and top fitness facilities. Dr. Mike is the author of Dr. Mike's 7 Step Weight Loss Plan and the upcoming 6 Pillars of Nutrition.